What to expect from CES 2009

The Consumer Electronic Show (CES) kicks off in Las Vegas next week, and we’ll be there bringing you all the latest from the show floor. In the meantime, read on for a glimpse of what to expect from CES 2009.

Ballmer off with a bang?

Bill Gates may have bowed out of CES, but Steve Ballmer is a more than capable replacement. Rumours that he’ll unveil a Zune phone during his first keynote have been shot down by Microsoft’s PR flak cannons, but some sort of Zune-based software platform for Windows Mobile still seems likely.

The company is also expected to distribute copies of Windows 7 beta 1 to attendees, giving users a chance to get their hands on the new user interface.

Touchscreen netbooks

Intel is also expected to be busy. The company could unveil its next-generation Classmate, a netbook for developing nations that features a touchscreen capable of swivelling into a tablet.

The processor giant has also been hard at work on its internet-television platform, the fruit of which involves a series of widgets allowing TV watchers to talk to friends or buy advertised products from online stores while watching their favourite programs.

Netbooks were the hot technology of 2008, and manufacturers are expected to continue to push the category with a range of new features. Asus, for example, is widely-anticipated to show off its first touchscreen Eee PC, while rumours swirl that netbook-doubter Sony is about to relent and introduce an Atom-powered 8in VAIO.

Samsung recently impressed us with its NC10 netbook and will be looking to build on that success with the NC20, which is thought to be powered by VIA’s elusive Nano.

Wafer-thin displays

Speaking of Sony and Samsung, the two companies have been pioneering organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays and CES 2009 could bring the biggest models yet. Samsung has been touting a massive 40in prototype, while Sony CEO Howard Stringer has hinted a 27in panel could be demonstrated at the show.

Sony could also take the opportunity to show off its first-ever touchscreen Walkman, which is set to go head-to-head with the iPod touch.

Android expands

If OLEDs and netbooks don’t float your boat, Samsung’s Android-powered smartphone could be more up your alley.

Also expected to make a smartphone splash is Palm. The once-mighty mobile phone company hasn’t had the best time recently, but it’s looking to strike back with Nova, a new smartphone operating system which the company is hoping will take 2% of the market.

Another company hoping to draw crowds with a smartphone is LG. The Korean electronics maker has developed a 3G watch-phone that features a 1.43in screen, voice recognition, text-to-speech, Bluetooth and MP3 playback functions.

Join us next week as we bring you coverage of all this and more live from Las Vegas.

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